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  • G. L. Gooding

Cooper Capers: Close Call


Nearly every experience with our Labradoodle pooch Cooper has been full of energy, wonder, and joy on his part and ours. Of course he has had his moments, but they have been few and far between. Oh, he could pull a little less on his leash when on a walk, come in when called, stop chasing a squirrel, or not scare Sarah to death with a sudden loud bark. But, otherwise, he’s been easy to live with…that is, up until last week.


On a beautiful afternoon, Sarah suggested we walk downtown to see how the falls were running after a rain. Normally, I have Cooper on the leash and Sarah walks along at my side. This time, however, she had the leash and, unlike with me, Cooper sauntered along beside her without pulling on the leash at all. It was great to see and good for their bonding.


Perhaps he behaved so perfectly because his original training had been completed with a woman. Whatever the reason, Sarah and I were quite pleased. I took over on the way back through town and the pulling returned, though less pronounced. We were a block past our small downtown, walking back into the residential area along a main street, when the excitement began.


After Cooper stopped to do some business, I was tying the poop bag up while trying to switch the leash to my other hand. Instead, I grabbed the end of the next bag in the dispenser. Out came the bag, down dropped the leash, and off went Cooper. I’d like to give our little guy an excuse like he saw a squirrel or rabbit and took off after it, but there were none in sight.


Now, this all happened during what amounts to our afternoon rush hour on one of the busiest streets in town. Sarah and I watched Cooper reverse direction and head back toward the center of town, running right into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, the light had just turned to green so the slow-moving vehicles could see our dog racing toward them.


The last I saw Cooper he dashed in front of the first car coming our way and in front of two cars waiting for traffic to start moving in the other direction. Sarah and I were stunned momentarily not knowing quite what to do. Finally, after an instant that felt much longer than the actual seconds, we gingerly headed across the street in a halting pursuit. As I passed a convertible heading into town, the driver offered to give me a ride.


I Jumped into her car, but only stayed a minute. With the traffic so heavy, Sarah was making better time on foot. So, I exited but remained frozen in place. There were just too many directions Cooper could have gone. I told Sarah to continue toward town while I went through a parking lot that led to the street where we lived. I’d made it only a few yards before my cell phone rang.


The phone call was from a bricklayer working with a crew laying a new sidewalk around the triangle park, the focal point of the business district. He asked if I was missing a dog. My heartrate began to return to normal as I hurried to Sarah with the good news. Less than a minute later we stood across the intersection from the tiny park. As we waited for the walk-signal, tons of traffic moved though the construction area. We couldn’t believe our little guy had made it through unscathed.


The workman I’d talked to said Cooper had seemed happy to get caught. Cooper ran directly to the man and let him secure the leash to a park bench before calling me. As we walked up shaking with relief, Cooper looked contrite and also relieved. Needless to say, this was, by far, the most dramatic moment for him and us.


As the old adage goes, if you fall off a horse, it’s best to get right back on, and so we did. We have been back downtown with Cooper several more times without further incident. Needless to say, we pay a great deal more attention to the little details of keeping him secure. I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences. I hope yours ended as well as ours.